Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who was in the news so much during the 1990s for supporting those in such great pain and fighting for their right to die, is dead himself.
I am only 39, but one day I might be in a hospital bed and facing pain that even future medicine cannot relieve or reduce. If my life is, at that point, just unending misery, should I not have the right to decide that I've had enough?
I believe that if that day comes, society will ensure that I have such a right. Unfortunately, in most states today, people don't have such a right. I have had pets, cats and dogs, that were taken to the vet to be put to death. Indeed, if I had not done that and let them die in great pain and suffering, most people would look at me with contempt if not revulsion.
But when it comes to my own choice or the choice of others in such pain, we are denied. I realize there are those with religious objections, but they have the right to decide to go on suffering if they so wish. I, though, do not share (nor do many others) those religious beliefs, and I should not be penalized in such a choice -- because of the beliefs of others.
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Jack Kevorkian also did not share any religious beliefs. He was an atheist, which is unfortunately still a handicap when advocating for a public policy change in America. If an atheist stated the sky was blue, 1/3 of the population would wonder if the sky was really green. The doctor, though, didn't hide the fact that he didn't share the religious beliefs of the majority, and neither do I. Than again, neither I nor him are running for any public office.
The fact is, though, religion often leads to less freedom. It leads to opposition to a right to die, opposition to the rights of gay couples to marry, obscenity prosecutions and even laws that allow the prosecution of same sex consensual relations. Look at Uganda, there is a movement in that very religious nation, to have gays face the death penalty.
Dr. Kevorkian envisioned a day when our public policy would be reason and human needs not based on religious superstition. At least on one issue, he made progress for his fellow Americans.